Electron Dance
14Nov/1711

Discussion: Ethan Carter’s Stories Untold

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  1. Do you like procedural games?

  2. On the parser section of Stories Untold, I remember reading, I don’t remember where, that they deliberately designed it to be janky. The idea being that a younger player of contemporary text adventures would find the parser difficult to master, maybe even confusing and abstruse. Seemingly, No Code wanted to emulate this experience for modern players who might either be experienced adventurers, know all the “get ye flask” tropes, or at least familiar what chat-bots, and so they made it deliberately opaque and sometimes contradictory.

    Hmmm. Now I loved Stories Untold, but I’m not sure I buy that story. The first chapter, The House Abandon, which is now the free demo, was originally a jam game made in a few days. I don’t think it changed much. The reason it doesn’t play like a proper text adventure is that it is not. Parser based text adventures are systemic, but The House Abandon doesn’t need to be, because it is short and there are few variables. My guess is that what is going behind the scenes is basically not a parser but a choose-your-own-adventure, a la Twine, but with typing. That would make it harder to anticipate whatever the player might type, and it’s easier to do in a fast paced game jam.

    Not to take anything away from it. The important thing is that it does create that confusion, not whether they planned it from the start! Just thought it was interesting in a Death of the Author kind of way.

    Oooh, and that bike-chase scene in Stranger Things – I wondered if it was a deliberate subversion in that El makes the police car fly over the kids, whereas ET made the kids fly over the police cars. Probably not the first person to think of that, but googling it is not a rabbit hole I’m going down!

  3. Hi Marcos! Do you mean procedurally generated games? It depends. I have fun with the roguelikes.

  4. Mr Behemoth!

    I had very similar thoughts when I was playing the text adventure segments – that actually this was an extremely stripped down parser and that it programmed to respond to specific sentences and drive through something like a twine.

    Even if that confusion is deliberate, it is just bad because it is literally infuriating in the second chapter. It does not add to the experience what they think it does. It collapses the game into player vs developer – you’re not “enjoying” the “evocative confusion” to put it delicately.

    Stranger Things: There’s a video out there that details every 80s homage scene in the series; there were plenty. Frankly, it just annoyed me. I liked it for what it was not for what it resembled or smelt like. And I’m definitely sure the scene with the van going up in the air is meant to be a subversion of the scene from ET. One of the things that bothered me in the second series is that the 80s homage stuff seemed to be more prominent and artificial, but that may just be me.

  5. So should I just get a walkthrough for the new, nastier Nova 7, or is there no point in cheating through this one in order to open more puzzles I won’t be able to do? On a perhaps related note, I could give you some hints on The Great Tower if you’re in the market. It wouldn’t really destroy the experience.

  6. Matt, personally I found Nova 7 the most difficult of every puzzle due to its size. Some of the other post-game challenges did stump me for awhile but I think I was just burnt out at the time. I polished them all off in a matter of days when I returned.

    My new favourite response from Brian Moriarty’s talk: A hint? Fuck off.

    I haven’t played SSR since we last spoke about it. Part of this is fear, but also I’ve just been working on other games. Archaica is surprisingly taxing with relatively small puzzles. Good work.

  7. Yes, in particular procedurally generated puzzle games.

  8. Marcos, I’m trying to wrack my brain for proc gen puzzle games but none come to mind. Everything is hand-crafted. Roguelike games are like proc gen puzzles but they’re not quite in the same league because randomness sometimes makes it very unlikely you will succeed.

  9. Well, I recently made a procedurally generated puzzle game; you can check it out in my site (I know, I know, you don’t do reviews… :) )

  10. Marcos, what other pcg puzzle games do you know of?

  11. I admit that there are not many… Tumblestone (tumblestonegame.com) and Streamline (https://francoisvn.itch.io/streamline) come to mind. Streamline has human-designed levels in the “campaign”, and PG ones on the infinite mode.
    And, of course, there are some sokoban collections that are PG, although these probably are human-curated.


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